MAC/20: Mines and Communities

South Africa: Mine spillage into Kruger National Park river

Published by MAC on 2014-01-08
Source: Bloomberg,

SA investigates mine spillage into Kruger National Park river

Kevin Crowley


7 January 2014

South Africa is probing a major mine spillage into a river running through Kruger National Park, the country's biggest game reserve.

Highly acidic water flowed from a dam filled with waste rock into Selati River near Phalaborwa resulting in "a massive fish kill," South African National Parks said in a statement today. The mine operation is called Bosveld Phosphate, it said.

The incident was uncovered by staff at Kruger National Park after being tipped off on Dec. 30 by a local fisherman. The Department of Water Affairs worked with the mine to stop the spillage and is investigating the causes and effect on the water body, which flows into the Olifants River, one of South Africa's biggest, said Nigel Adams, a department compliance director.

"It was very serious in the beginning but with intervention we have stopped the spillage and are monitoring the water quality on a daily basis," he said. "We're meeting with the mine tomorrow to assess its plan to rectify the situation."

Visitor camps inside Kruger that use water from Olifants River switched supplies to backup borehole water, SANParks said. Animals drinking from the Olifants may be affected by the pollution, according to SANParks spokesman Ike Phaahla.

About 147 kinds of mammals including lions, rhinos, elephants, water buffalo and leopards live in Kruger National Park, covering 2 million hectares, about the size of Wales in the U.K.

--Editors: Tony Barrett, Antony Sguazzin

South Africa charges mining firm that polluted river at national park

Cecilia Jamasmie

7 January 2014

South Africa's Department of Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) has laid criminal charges against mining firm Bosveld Phosphate after one of its tailing dams overflowed in late December, causing major pollution of two rives that run through Kruger National Park.

According to the government's news agency, highly acidic water flowed from a dam filled with waste rock into Selati River, resulting in "a massive fish kill" over a 15km stretch of water.

The stream is an important tributary of the Olifants River, considered one the most environmentally stressed in South Africa and an important shared watercourse with Mozambique.

DWEA director for compliance monitoring and enforcement, Nigel Adams, said that samples had revealed water quality in the dam was well below the levels stipulated by the National Water Act.

Separately, SANParks added it had taken "immediate precautions" to ensure safe water supply to tourist camps in the park, home to about 147 species, including lions, rhinos, elephants, water buffaloes and leopards.

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